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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Albrecht Maurer, Lucian Ban & Mat Maneri - Fantasm (Nemu, 2015) ****

By Stef

The great thing about improvised music is its openness to other genres and styles, its basic inclusiveness often resulting in new and fascinating music, as on this wonderful album, an adjective to be taken in its original sense of being "full of wonder", offered to us here by Albrecht Maurer on violin, Mat Maneri on viola and Lucian Ban on piano, hailing respectively from Germany, the United States and Romania. All three musicians have made a comparable musical journey starting with a classical education, then shifting to the more open ground of jazz and modern classical music, atonal composition or experimental music.

The result is that all three find each other blindly, speaking the same language and easily shifting from one style to another in a seamless fashion, presenting music as a great whole without distinctions, offering us romantic moments interspersed with more hectic microtonal excursions or intense adventures into new realms. The basis is always a minimal agreement on a theme and a structure, but then they move this theme forward, expand on it, and make it all sound so natural, with beautiful improvised passages flowing organically forward, often in relatively compact pieces of around four to five minutes, each with their own character and approach.

As said, a 'wonderful' album full of musical treats.


Colin Green said...

Perhaps another clue to where this music is coming from is that the title piece – the only one not written by the musicians – is by Paul Motian. It first appeared as a short piece on “Byablue” by Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet (though Motian doesn't play on that track) and was subsequently recorded by Motian on “Psalm” and “Fantasm – The Music of Paul Motian”, an outstanding version. The tune’s also been covered by Enrico Rava and Ravi Coltrane, so perhaps it's becoming something of a standard.

I agree, this is a lovely album which also has roots in folk music, as did many of Motian’s tunes.

Colin Green said...

And although not credited, the last track on the album, "Ok Now", seems to be based on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time" which is quoted briefly right at the end.

Stef said...

Thanks Colin, I didn't make that connection.